On 1st October 2020, Entebbe International Airport reopened for commercial flights after six months of closure and restrictions on foreign passenger flights. The Airport was closed earlier this year in March to combat the spread of Covid-19, only cargo carriers, and a few flights that were repatriating Uganda nationals were authorized.
During the first phase of reopening the airport, that is the period from 1st October to December, various airlines will only be allowed to operate one flight a day except for the Uganda Airlines that will operate two flights a day to Nairobi, three flights to Mogadishu and four flights to Juba and Dar-es-salaam. Before lockdown, the airport could operate over 100 commercial flights a day, however, this number of flights has been brought down due to the guidelines that were issued by the Uganda Civil Aviation Authority (UCAA)
With the country still observing and respecting curfew time, only incoming and outgoing passengers will be allowed to move during curfew time. Njuki Mbabali, the Entebbe deputy resident commissioner, said that security agencies have been briefed to allow passengers moving to and from Entebbe airport during curfew time. He emphasized that passengers must present their passports and air tickets whenever stopped by police officers.
The airport may be now open, but still, the tourism sector has been hit hard because very few people are booking tickets. This may be associated with the rise in the charges of air tickets, the various Standard of Operating Procedures (SOPs) that are supposed to be followed, especially now that passengers pay for their own cost of Covid-19 tests in the country.
Eunice Nabukenya, a tour and travel agent said that it will take several months before air travel may regain its vibrancy. She added that her company has not yet received any booking for the next three months. Eunice fears that the coming general elections in the country may worse the situation.
“Apart from people who will travel for medical and work-related reasons, I think tourists will start coming to Uganda after March next year.” — Eunice
The manager of Awel Tours and Travel Ltd, George Wangaya, said that he has got only three bookings with one client wanting to come to Uganda while the other two want to travel for work abroad.